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Distinctive development: Houston's most innovative new real estate projects lead the way

Courtesy of Urban Land Institute Houston
04 ULI Houston development project winners 2014 December 2013 Finalist Historic Fire Station No. 6

Seven innovative real estate projects have been announced for the 2014 Development of Distinction Awards — the signature award series organized by the Houston chapter of the Urban Land Institute that highlights the region's most successful new developments in terms of design, community awareness, sustainability and economic viability.

"These examples lead the way in Houston real estate," ULI executive director Ann Taylor tells CultureMap. "In a perfect world, we wish all development projects could look like this."

The organization hand-picked five finalists and two honorable mentions that show that Houston's ongoing real estate boom doesn't have to leave a trail of luxury condos and strip centers in its wake.

Taylor points to an historic 1903 fire station along Washington Avenue that was spared from the wrecking ball to become the show-stopping headquarters of the communications film Axiom.

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At left, finalist Historic Fire Station No. 6

Courtesy of Urban Land Institute Houston
03 ULI Houston development project winners 2014 December 2013 Finalist BG Group Place

Also among this year's notables are a LEED-certified elementary school and the BG Group office tower by noted Houston developer Hines, which itself has sparked a wave of downtown projects.

For the first time, ULI will present its new  Vision Award for Exemplary Leadership to The Woodlands Development Co. for the late George Mitchell's master planned community just north of Houston.

Winners will be announced Jan. 28 during a ceremony at the Rice Crystal Ballroom.

Click through the slideshow for the full list of finalists and be sure to check out the ULI–Houston website in early January to select your favorite projects for the People's Choice Award.

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Finalist BG Group Place; designed by Pickard Chilton for Hines

Courtesy of Urban Land Institute Houston
06 ULI Houston development project winners 2014 December 2013 Finalist James Berry Elementary School

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Finalist James Berry Elementary School; designed by Gensler for the Houston Independent School District

Courtesy of Urban Land Institute Houston
02 ULI Houston development project winners 2014 December 2013 Finalist BBVA Compass Stadium

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Finalist BBVA Compass Stadium; designed by Populous for the City of Houston, Harris County and the Houston Sports Authority

Courtesy of Urban Land Institute Houston
05 ULI Houston development project winners 2014 December 2013 Finalist Don Sanders Adoption Center

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Finalist Don Sanders Adoption Center; designed by Gensler for Friends for Life

Courtesy of Urban Land Institute Houston
01 ULI Houston development project winners 2014 December 2013 Vision Award The Woodlands Master Plan

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Vision Award for Exemplary Leadership goes to The Woodlands master plan, developed by the late George Mitchell

Courtesy of Urban Land Institute Houston
ULI Houston development project winners 2014 December Casa de Esperanza

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Honorable Mention Casa de Esperanza; developed by David Weekley Homes for Casa de Esperanza

Courtesy of Urban Land Institute Houston
08 ULI Houston development project winners 2014 December 2013 Honorable Mention Dress for Success Houston

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Honorable Mention Dress for Success Houston; designed by Ziegler Cooper Architects for Dress for Success Houston